• Hope for Creation

    Posted by Micah Challenge

    2 November, 2011

    By Cath James, Environmental Project Officer at Justice & International Mission

    Recently I read that The Bureau of Meteorology recorded some of the highest temperatures on record for September. I was shocked. Not because it surprised me, but because I realised I had stopped thinking about the fact that our world is still warming and this will have all sorts of consequences for how we live our lives.

    I can’t cope with bad news all the time, none of us can. It is only natural that we develop some form of coping mechanism to deal with such a huge threat as climate change. Some people choose to discount the risk or choose to be sceptical, others go into denial. At times this has been my response. Sometimes I stop reading newspaper articles that will tell me about another report with further scientific evidence of human induced climate change, or about the impact on people in the Pacific who are struggling to grow food because their croplands are now salty with increased flooding and kingtides. Instead I have found myself thinking, ‘Surely if it was that bad someone would do something about it’. At other times I get angry or sad or depressed that it seems that no one is doing anything fast enough. But when I am brave enough, I realise someone should do something and that someone is me.

    Hope is also a coping mechanism. Hope can also inspire change and action that creates the desired situation. When we give in to denial it ensures that things will not change. However, to dare to hope that we can change the world sets us on a path to making sure it will happen. In this way, prayer is powerful. When we come before God in humble prayer, we also acknowledge God’s love for us and for the world. In prayer, we respond to that love and with that comes the responsibility to take action, as theologian Sallie McFague says, to live in a way that holds up “love, goodness, honesty and beauty” and stops those acts that are “cruel, perverse, false, greedy or hateful”.

    I found this quote in a blog entitled 'What is hope?' when I was searching for examples of hope. I've include it here because it also captures the idea of Christian hope – that sometimes the evidence of God’s Kingdom here on earth seems hard to find, but that our faith can carry us through:

    "Barack Obama titled his first book The Audacity of Hope, which is a phrase he heard in a sermon by Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Wright preached on a painting that featured a woman in rags and covered in wounds. Though her harp had only one string, she made music to praise God, and Wright said it was this act that was audacious. She could have just sat there, miserable, and wished for things to get better. Instead, when there seems to be no hope, making the choice to believe that there is indeed hope, and that there is indeed a better life ahead, is what God wants for us."

    I think it is this active choice that is important. For what ensures we maintain our hope is a sense of empowerment, that we can do things that will make a difference. I think this again is where I often fall down, because it seems that whatever I do, whether it’s write a letter to my local MP or the paper, reduce how much energy I use at home, ride my bike, take a cup instead of getting a take-away one, it never seems to match the size of the problem. And the problem is of course insurmountable by me and me alone.

    It is then that I am reminded of when Jesus asked: “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.” Again he asked: “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.” (Luke 13:18-21)

    The Kingdom of God is to be found in these small acts. Small acts that multiply and grow and eventually change the world. This is the miracle of hope.

    This blog originally appeared on the Hope for Creation website. Please join us in prayer about climate change, as part of Hope for Creation, this Sunday 6 November. Micah Challenge is endorsing Hope for Creation because we recognise that climate change is an issue of justice directly impacting the world's poorest people and threatening to undo the progress that has been made on the MDGs.